Roadkills of Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris (Mammalia: Perissodactyla: Tapiridae) in one of its last refuges in the Atlantic Forest

Main Article Content

Aureo Banhos dos Santos
Andressa Gatti
Marcelo Renan de Deus Santos
Leonardo Merçon
Ilka Westermeyer
Natália Carneiro Ardente
Luis Francisco Oliveira Pereira Gonzaga
Lucas Mendes Barreto
Lucas Damásio
Tomas Lima Rocha
Vitor Roberto Schettino
Renata Valls
Helena Godoy Bergallo
Marcos Vinicius Freitas Silva
Athelson Stefanon Bittencourt
Danielle de Oliveira Moreira
Ana Carolina Srbek-Araujo


Highways limit the movement and dispersion of wild animals and contribute to their loss due to roadkills, leading to the isolation and decline of populations, increasing the risk of local extinction. The Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris is the largest neotropical herbivore-frugivore, and despite its wide distribution in South America it is threatened with extinction. In this study we report six roadkill events of tapirs between 2014 and 2019 in a section of a federal highway crossing the mosaic of Atlantic Forest reserves called Sooretama, one of the last tapir refuges in southeastern Brazil. The traffic in this area is heavy with inadequate speed control, while exotic fruit trees growing along the highway attract wild animals. Water drainage tunnels serve as passageways for some species, including tapirs. However, the tunnels located under the highway are not continuously maintained, reducing its effectiveness. The loss of at least one tapir per year can have serious long-term consequences for one of the last viable lowland tapir populations in the entire Atlantic Forest. Emergency measures are required to avoid vehicle-tapir collisions.

Article Details



Alvares, C.A., J.L. Stape, P.C. Sentelhas, G. de Moraes, J. Leonardo & G. Sparovek (2013). Köppen’s climate classification map for Brazil. Meteorologische Zeitschrift 22: 711–728.

Ascensão, F. & A. Mira (2007). Factors affecting culvert use by vertebrates along two stretches of road in southern Portugal. Ecological Research 22: 57–66.

Ascensão, F., A.L.J Desbiez, E.P. Medici & A. Bager (2017). Spatial patterns of road mortality of medium–large mammals in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Wildlife Research 44: 135–146.

Banhos, A., B.L. Fontes, D.R. Yogui, M.H. Alves, N.C. Ardente, R. Valls, L.M. Barreto, L. Damásio, Á.C. Ferreguetti, A.S. Carvalho, V.R. Schettino, A.R. Santos, H.G. Bergallo, A.C. Srbek-Araujo, E.P. Medici & A.L.J. Desbie (2020). Highways are a threat for giant armadillos that underpasses can mitigate. Biotropica 52: 421–426.

Barcelos, A.R., P.E.D. Bobrowiec, T.M. Sanaiotti & R. Gribel (2013). Seed germination from lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) fecal samples collected during the dry season in the northern Brazilian Amazon. Integrative Zoology 8: 63–73.

Bello, C., M. Galetti, M.A. Pizo, L.F.S. Magnago, M.F. Rocha, R.A.F. Lima, C.A. Peres, O. Ovaskainen & P. Jordano (2015). Defaunation affects carbon storage in tropical forests. Science Advances 1: 1–11.

Bueno, R.S., R. Guevara, M.C. Ribeiro, L. Culot, F.S. Bufalo & M. Galetti (2013). Functional redundancy and complementarities of seed dispersal by the last neotropical megafrugivores. PLoS ONE 8(2): e56252.

Cáceres, N.C. (2011). Biological characteristics influence mammal road kill in an Atlantic Forest–Cerrado interface in south-western Brazil. Italian Journal of Zoology 78: 379–389.

Cáceres, N.C., W. Hannibal, D.R. Freitas, E.L. Silva, C. Roman & J. Casella (2010). Mammal occurrence and roadkill in two adjacent ecoregions (Atlantic Forest and Cerrado) in south-western Brazil. Zoologia (Curitiba) 27: 709–717.

Cain, A.T., V.R. Tuovila, D.G. Hewitt & M.E. Tewes (2003). Effects of a highway and mitigation projects on bobcats in Southern Texas. Biological Conservation 114: 189–197.

Carvalho, A.S., F.D. Martins, F.M. Dutra, D. Gettinger, F. Martins-Hatano & H.G. Bergallo (2014). List Large and Medium-Sized Mammals of Carajás National, Pará State, Brazil. Check List 10: 1–9.

Clevenger, A.P. (2005). Conservation value of wildlife crossings: Measures of performance and research directions. Gaia 14: 124–129.

Clevenger, A.P., B. Chruszcz & K. Gunson (2001). Drainage culverts as habitat linkages and factors affecting passage by mammals. Journal of Applied Ecology 38: 1340–1349.

Coffin, A.W. (2007). From roadkill to road ecology: A review of the ecological effects of roads. Journal of Transport Geography 15: 396–406.

Damásio, L., L.A. Ferreira, V.T. Pimenta, G.G. Paneto, A.R. dos Santos, A.D. Ditchfield, H.G. Bergallo & A. Banhos (2021). Diversity and Abundance of Roadkilled Bats in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Diversity 13: 335.

de Freitas, M.A., R.C. Printes, E.K. Motoyama, A.E. Fucks & D. Veríssimo (2017). Roadkill records of Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris (Mammalia: Perissodactyla: Tapiridae) between kilometers 06 and 76 of highway BR-163, state of Pará, Brazil. Journal of Threatened Taxa 9(11): 10948–10952.

de Souza, J.C., V.P. da Cunha & S.H. Markwith (2015). Spatiotemporal variation in human-wildlife conflicts along highway BR-262 in the Brazilian Pantanal. Wetlands Ecology and Management 23: 227–239.

Dodd, Jr. C.K., W.J. Barichivich & L.L. Smith (2004). Effectiveness of a barrier wall and culverts in reducing wildlife mortality on a heavily traveled highway in Florida. Biological Conservation 118: 619–631.

Eisenberg, J.F. & K.H. Redford (1999). Mammals of the Neotropics, Volume 3: Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil. University of Chicago Press, Illinois.

Fahrig, L. & T. Rytwinski (2009). Effects of Roads on Animal Abundance: an Empirical Review and Synthesis. Ecology and Society 14: 21.

Electronic version accessed 20 May 2020.

Ferreguetti, A.C., W.M. Tomás & H.G. Bergallo (2017). Density, occupancy, and detectability of lowland tapirs, Tapirus terrestris, in Vale Natural Reserve, southeastern Brazil. Journal of Mammalogy 98: 114–123.

Flesher, K.M. & A. Gatti (2010). Tapirus terrestris in Espírito Santo, Brasil. Tapir Conservation 19/1: 16–23.

Forman, R.T.T. & L.E. Alexander (1998). Roads and their major ecological effects. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 29: 207–231.

Freitas, S.R. & L.B. Barszcz (2015). A perspectiva da mídia online sobre os acidentes entre veículos e animais em rodovias brasileiras: uma questão de segurança? Desenvolvimento e Meio Ambiente 33: 261–276.

Galetti, M., H.C. Giacomini, R.S. Bueno, C.S.S. Bernardo, R.M. Marques, R.S. Bovendorp, C.E. Steffler, P. Rubim, S.K. Gobbo, C.I. Donatti, R.A. Begotti, F. Meirelles, R.A. Nobre, A.G. Chiarello & C.A. Peres (2009). Priority areas for the conservation of Atlantic forest large mammals. Biological Conservation 142: 1229–1241.

García, M.J., E.P. Medici, E.J. Naranjo, W. Novarino & R.S. Leonardo (2012). Distribution, habitat and adaptability of the genus Tapirus. Integrative Zoology 7: 346–355.

Gatti, A., D. Brito & S.L. Mendes (2011). How many lowland tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) are needed in Atlantic Forest fragments to ensure long- term persistence? Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment 46: 77–84.

Giombini, M.I., S.P. Bravo & D.S. Tosto D.S. (2016). The key role of the largest extant Neotropical frugivore (Tapirus terrestris) in promoting admixture of plant genotypes across the landscape. Biotropica 48: 499–508.

Glista, D.J., T.L. DeVault & J.A. DeWoody (2009). A review of mitigation measures for reducing wildlife mortality on roadways. Landscape and Urban Planning 91: 1–7.

Goosem, M., Y. Izumi & S. Turton (2001). Efforts to restore habitat connectivity for an upland tropical rainforest fauna: A trial of underpasses below roads. Ecological Management & Restoration 2: 196–202.

Grilo, C., M.R.Coimbra, R.C. Cerqueira, P. Barbosa, R.A.P. Dornas, L.O. Gonçalves, F.Z. Teixeira, I.P. Coelho, B.R. Schmidt, D.L.K. Pacheco, G. Schuck, I.B. Esperando, J.A. Anza, J. Beduschi, N.R. Oliveira, P.F. Pinheiro, A. Bager, H. Secco, M. Guerreiro, C.F. Carvalho, A.C. Veloso, A.E.I. Custódio, O. Marçal, G. Ciocheti, J. Assis, M.C. Ribeiro, B.S.S. Francisco, J.J. Cherem, T.C. Trigo, M.M.A. Jardim, I.C. Franceschi, C. Espinosa, F.P. Tirelli, V.J. Rocha, M.L. Sekiama, G.P. Barbosa, H.R. Rossi, T.C. Moreira, M. Cervini, C.A. Rosa, L.G. Silva, C.M.M. Ferreira, A. César, J. Casella, S.L. Mendes, J. Zina, D.F.O. Bastos, R.A.T. Souza, P.A. Hartmann, A.C.G. Deffaci, J. Mulinari, S.C. Luzzi, T. Rezzadori, C. Kolcenti, T.X. Reis, V.S.C. Fonseca, C.F. Giorgi, R.P.Migliorini, C.B. Kasper, C. Bueno, M. Sobanski, A.P.F.G. Pereira, F.A.G. Andrade, M.E.B. Fernandes, L.L.C. Corrêa, A. Nepomuceno, A. Banhos, W. Hannibal, R. Fonseca, L.A. Costa, E.P. Medici, A. Croce, K. Werther, J.P. Oliveira, J.M Ribeiro, M. de Santi, A.E. Kawanami, L. Perles, C. do Couto, D.S. Figueiró, E. Eizirik, A.A. Correia, F.M. Corrêa, D. Queirolo, A.L. Quagliatto, B.H. Saranholi, P.M. Galetti, K.G. Rodriguez-Castro, V.S. Braz, F.G.R. França, G. Buss, J.A. Rezini, M.B. Lion, C.C. Cheida, A.C.R. Lacerda, C.H. Freitas, F. Venâncio, C.H. Adania, A.F. Batisteli, C.G.Z. Hegel, J.A. Mantovani, F.H.G. Rodrigues, T. Bagatini, N.H.A. Curi, L. Emmert, R.H. Erdmann, R.R.G.F. Costa, A. Martinelli, C.V.F. Santos & A. Kindel (2018). Brazil road-kill: a data set of wildlife terrestrial vertebrate road-kills. Ecology 99: 2625.

Holderegger, R. & M. Di Giulio (2010). The genetic effects of roads: A review of empirical evidence. Basic and Applied Ecology 11: 522–531.

Huijser, M.P., J.W. Duffield, A.P. Clevenger, R.J. Ament & P.T. McGowen (2009). Cost-benefit analysis of mitigation measures aimed at reducting collisions with large ungulates in the United States and Canada, a decision support tool. Ecology and Society 14: 15.

Electronic version accessed 20 May 2020.

Instituto Brasileiro de Desenvolvimento Florestal (1981). Plano de Manejo Reserva Biológica de Sooretama. Electronic version accessed 13 March 2019.

Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (2019). Plano de Manejo Reserva Biológica de Sooretama.

Electronic version accessed 20 May 2020.

Klippel, A.H., P.V. Oliveira, K.B. Britto, B.F. Freire, M.R. Moreno, A.R. Santos, A. Banhos & G.G. Paneto (2015). Using DNA barcodes to identify road-killed animals in two Atlantic Forest nature reserves, Brazil. PLoS One 10: e0134877.

Laurance, W.F., M. Goosem & S.G.W.W. Laurance (2009). Impacts of roads and linear clearings on tropical forests. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 24: 659–669.

Lesbarrères, D. & L. Fahrig (2012). Measures to reduce population fragmentation by roads: what has worked and how do we know? Trends in Ecology & Evolution 27: 374–380.

Lester, D. (2015). Effective Wildlife Roadkill Mitigation. Journal of Traffic and Transportation Engineering 3: 42–51.

Lorenzutti, R. & A.P. Almeida (2006). A coleção de mamíferos do Museu Elias Lorenzutti em Linhares, Estado do Espírito Santo, Brasil. Boletim do Museu de Biologia Mello Leitão (Nova Série) 19: 59–74.

McCollister, M.F. & F.T. van Manen (2010). Effectiveness of Wildlife Underpasses and Fencing to Reduce Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions. The Journal of Wildlife Management 74: 1722–1731.

Medici, E.P. (2011). Family Tapiridae (Tapirs), pp. 182–204. In: Wilson, D.E. & R.A. Mittermeier (eds.). Handbook of the Mammals of the World: Vol. 2: Hoofed Mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Medici, E.P. & A.L.J. Desbiez (2012). Population viability analysis: using a modeling tool to assess the viability of tapir populations in fragmented landscapes. Integrative Zoology 7(4): 356–372.

Medici, E.P., K. Flesher, B.M. Beisiegel, A. Keuroghlian, A.L.J. Desbiez, A. Gatti, A.R.M. Pontes, C.B. de Campos, C.F. de Tófoli, E.A. Moraes Junior, F.C. de Azevedo, G.M. de Pinho, J.L.P. Cordeiro, T.S. Santos Júnior, A.A. de Morais, P.R. Mangini, L.F. Rodrigues & L.B. de Almeida (2012). Avaliação do Risco de Extinção da Anta brasileira Tapirus terrestris Linnaeus, 1758, no Brasil. Biodiversidade Brasileira-BioBrasil Ano II: 103–116.

Medici, E.P., K. Flesher, B.M. Beisiegel, A. Keuroghlian, A.L.J. Desbiez, A. Gatti, A.R.M. Pontes, C.B. de Campos, C.F. de Tófoli, E.A. Moraes Junior, F.C. de Azevedo, G.M. de Pinho, J.L.P. Cordeiro, T.S. Santos Júnior, A.A. de Morais, P.R. Mangini, L.F. Rodrigues & L.B. de Almeida (2018). Tapirus terrestris (Linnaeus, 1758), pp. 59–68. In: Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ed.). Livro Vermelho da Fauna Brasileira Ameaçada de Extinção: Vol 2: Mamíferos. Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade, Brasília.

Myers, N., R.A. Mittermeier, C.G. Mittermeier, G.A. da Fonseca & J. Kent (2000). Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403: 853–858.

Padilla, M. & R.C. Dowler (1994). Tapirus terrestris. Mammalian Species 481: 1–8.

Paolucci, L.N., R.L. Pereira, L. Rattis, D.V. Silvério, N.C.S. Marques, M.N. Macedo & P.M. Brando (2019). Lowland tapirs facilitate seed dispersal in degraded Amazonian forests. Biotropica 51: 245–252.

Peres, C.A., E. Thaise, J. Schietti, S.J.M. Desmoulieres & T. Levi (2015). Dispersal limitation induces long-term biomass collapse in overhunted Amazonian forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 113: 892–897.

van der Ree, R., D. Heinze, M. McCarthy & I. Mansergh (2009). Wildlife tunnel enhances population viability. Ecology and Society 14: 7.

Electronic version accessed 20 May 2020.

Ribeiro, M.C., J.P. Metzger, A.C. Martensen, F.J. Ponzoni & M.M. Hirota (2009). The Brazilian Atlantic Forest: How much is left, and how is the remaining forest distributed? Implications for conservation. Biological Conservation 142: 1141–1153.

Rolim, S.G., L.F.T. Menezes & A.C. Srbek-Araujo (2016). Floresta Atlântica de Tabuleiro: Diversidade e Endemismo na Reserva Natural Vale. Editora Rona, Belo Horizonte.

Rytwinski, T., K. Soanes, J.A.G. Jaeger, L. Fahrig, C.S. Findlay, J. Houlahan, R. van der Ree & E.A. van der Grift (2016). How effective is road mitigation at reducing road-kill? A meta-analysis. PLoS One 11: 1–25.

Seiler, A. (2005). Predicting locations of moose-vehicle collisions in Sweden. Journal of Applied Ecology 42: 371–382.

Srbek-Araujo, A.C., S.L. Mendes & A.G. Chiarello (2015). Jaguar (Panthera onca Linnaeus, 1758) roadkill in Brazilian Atlantic Forest and implications for species conservation. Brazilian Journal of Biology 75: 581–586.

Taylor, B.D. & R.L. Goldingay (2003). Cutting the carnage: wildlife usage of road culverts in north-eastern New South Wales. Wildlife Research 30: 529–537.

Trombulak, S.C. & C.A. Frissell (2000). Review of Ecological Effects of Roads on Terrestrial and Aquatic Communities. Conservation Biology 14: 18–30.

Últimos Refúgios (2014a). Riquezas Perdidas.

Electronic version accessed 20 May 2020.

Últimos Refúgios (2014b). Workshop - Impactos da Rodovia BR-101 na Reserva Biológica de Sooretama.

Electronic version accessed 20 May 2020.

Últimos Refúgios (2015) Uma Estrada no Caminho. Electronic version accessed 20 May 2020.

Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo (2014). Workshop Impactos da Rodovia BR-101 na Reserva Biológica de Sooretama: Estudos, Alternativas e Mitigação. (accessed 20 May 2020).

van der Grift, E.A., R. van der Ree, L. Fahrig, S. Findlay, J. Houlahan, J.A.G. Jaeger, N. Klar, L.F. Madriñan & L. Olson (2013). Evaluating the effectiveness of road mitigation measures. Biodiversity and Conservation 22: 425–448.

Varela, D., K. Flesher, J. Cartes, S. Chalukian, S. de Bustos, G. Ayala & C. Richard-Hansen (2019). Tapirus terrestris, Lowland Tapir. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019.